Inmates use ductwork in Whatcom County jail riot

BELLINGHAM — The Whatcom County sheriff says a handful of county jail inmates used metal ductwork ripped from crumbling walls to smash windows and pry off locks in a riot that caused about $10,000 in damage.

One inmate was treated for a minor injury Wednesday night. Sheriff Bill Elfo said deputies trained in riot response ended the violence at the Bellingham jail after about an hour. No officers were hurt.

The sheriff said six inmates in a maximum security cellblock ripped chunks of the heating system off the walls and used the metal parts as weapons, smashing windows in the interior day room. Toilets were flooded as well.

Elfo said the deteriorating condition of the aging jail was a “major contributing factor” to the riot.

Corrections Chief Wendy Jones says the inmates were upset about being in lockdown for a roll call that took longer than usual.

Fourteen inmates were housed in the cellblock. The sheriff says inmates who did not take part were relocated within the jail.

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